Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Romans 12:2; "Do not be conformed to this present age" Important to the understanding of Transformation

Rom 12:2 CSB  "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God."

Anyone who thinks that there is no theological presuppositions brought to translating the scripture is simply, sadly mistaken. Here is a classic example. I have posted this verse from the Christian Standard Bible by Holman. Notice that it says "do not be conformed to this age." In all the other major translations it is rendered "do not be conformed to this world." The truth is that in the original Greek the verse is "do not be conformed to this age." This is really important in understanding the transformation process. 

What would "do not be conformed to this age" mean to the first century follower of Jesus? Well, it would mean something radically different than what "do not be conformed to this world" means to the average evangelical today. As I have stated time and again, it is important to understand the historical context to really understand the meaning of the author of the New Testament scripture. The first century Jews were expecting Olam ha ba, the age to come. They contrasted that with the present age. Jesus mentioned this age, and the age to come in Matt 12:32. So, the first century Jews and Christians would be very cognizant of the phrase, "this age," and "the age to come." To them, this age would mean the current religious system, and the age to come would be the Messianic Kingdom.

So Paul is really saying in Romans 12:2, "do not be conformed to this present religious system" but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; Renewing the mind to what? To the gospel of the Messianic Kingdom. This is indeed a very different meaning than is widely accepted in evangelical doctrine. Renewing ones mind to the gospel is the transforming agent. 

So now, lets look a little further into this verse. What about the word transformed? In the Greek it is metamorphousthe from the word metamorphoo which is where we get the word metamorphosis. The transforming is done by an outside force. It is only found in three scripture verses. One is where Jesus is on the mountain being transfigured, and the other is where Paul describes being changed in a moment in a twinkling of an eye. Make no mistake, Paul is not referring to a read and do change. Paul is speaking of a change that is done to us, and for us, by an outside force. It is not self reformation. 

So then, what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God? John 6:38-40  "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  (39)  This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.  (40)  For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus came directly from the Father. He came directly from the Father to do the Father's will. He states unequivocally what the will of the Father is in this passage. The will of the Father is that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. Again, it is the will of the Father that people believe the gospel.

This is drastically different than the way that current evangelical dogma and doctrine looks at this passage. In that view, being conformed to the world, is being conformed to the world system and that is not what Paul was referring too at all. Being transformed is something done by the Holy Spirit apart from our own effort so it cannot possibly be renewing ones mind to scripture revelation, which is the current accepted understanding of renewing the mind. Let me state clearly what the meaning is again. Paul meant to not be conformed to the religious system of the day and that one should renew their mind to the gospel, which is the coming Messianic age. The current religious system was Judaism and temple worship. It was old covenant thinking. The coming Messianic age would be fully instated with the destruction of the temple.

In other words, the mind should be renewed to the gospel of grace.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Holy Spirit Transformation II

This is the second V-log post on the transformation process and how the Holy Spirit uses the gospel and not the law to transform saints. This one focuses on Romans 5:1 and peace with God.

If you like this vlog, subscribe to the youtube channel and you will automatically get updates as they are up loaded.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The first in a series of V-logs

Hi, I would like to begin a V-log series as well as the blog. This will be a way to augment the writing, and perhaps be a way to engage those who would rather listen and view than read.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The role presuppositions play in interpreting scripture

Rom 10:17  "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

What are presuppositions? Here is the dictionary definition: "a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action." Let me break this down further... tacitly is the way in which something is understood implicitly without being stated. The fact is all people bring presuppositions to their understanding and interpretation of scripture. One such presupposition is that the bible and the phrase word of God are interchangeable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It amazes me that evangelical Christian doctrine so readily ascribes a meaning to a phrase that would have been completely foreign to Paul the original author. No passage more completely emphasizes this distinction than Romans 10:17. I have heard so many pastors and teachers use Romans 10:17 as a proof text that faith comes from hearing the bible. By this, they mean that all passages are equal.

It is exacerbated by another presupposition. It is presupposed that the bible is a legal constitutional document, a rule-book of sorts. I have likewise heard so many preachers and teachers proclaim that the bible is a road-map for living.
This also is simply not true. 

A strong argument can be made for the scripture being a legal constitutional document in the "Mosaic Covenant." Likewise, in the Hebrew scriptures before the cross, the Torah (first five books of Moses) and not the Tanakh (the 39 books comprising the O.T.) was referred to the "word of God" especially by David in the Psalms. However, that dynamic changed with the advent of Jesus of Nazareth. It was further changed by the apostles after the resurrection. 

Let me get this out of the way. Yes, the scripture is inspired and God breathed. However, it is not the word of God in the New Covenant era. It certainly contains the words and thoughts of God. But, it is simply erroneous to call it the word of God. That has been true ever since the installation of the New Covenant. At any rate, Romans 10:17, is one of the most misused verses in the sacred scripture.

The quote above is from the NKJV.  Of all the major translations, only the King James and the New King James translate it as the word of God. All others translate it as the word of Christ. If you read Romans 10:17 in context, it is clear that the meaning of word of God, even in the King James Version, is really the gospel. 

Why is this important you may ask? The answer is that it contributes reinforcing the legal constitutional view of scripture. I use this example to illustrate that people have presuppositions when it comes to evangelical doctrine. And, that if ones presuppositions interfere with the actual intended meaning of a passage, it leads to error every time. Over time this has lead to great error indeed.

All of scripture DOES NOT have equal weight. The only way it does is in contributing to a redemptive view. John 5:39-40 tells us of Jesus words to the Pharisees about scripture. He explained that if they were searching the scriptures to find life they were going in a wrong direction. The scriptures were provided to point to Him the Messiah so that they could find life in Him. Therefore, He was establishing that the gospel of redemption had precedent in the scripture. This sets aside the rule book, legal constitutional aspect. 

The bottom line is this. Faith does not come from hearing the scripture. Faith comes from hearing the gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel of grace to instill faith in the individual. What is the gospel you ask? That is a fair question as there seems to be a variety of answers. I think the most concise explanation of the gospel is found in 2 Cor 5:17-21... in essence, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses/sin against them, and that he made the one who knew no sin to be made sin for the rest of humanity so that they thereby could be the righteousness of God.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit: The transformation process.

Rom 14:17  "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

I have blogged many times over the years about the actual operation of the transformation process. I am convinced beyond any doubt that the current view of the way in which the Holy Spirit transforms is way off the mark. It is an error that greatly retards the healthy growth of the church and Christianity. Here is  the main view of transformation by evangelical Christianity. Once a person puts faith and trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit allows that person to obey the law. Most don't require that the law be obeyed perfectly and they rely on 1 John 1:9. However, they most definitely teach that over all the Holy Spirit enables one to live more holy through a read and do method. This is a pathetic lie that keeps the believer bound.

What the New Testament clearly and concisely teaches is that the Holy Spirit uses the message of the gospel to transform the individual through love, joy, and peace. It is made clear by Paul in Galatians 5:19 thru verse 26. Paul contrasts the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. If the above view of transformation, accepted by evangelical Christianity were correct, Paul would have contrasted the works of the flesh with the WORKS of the Spirit. He did not do that. There are absolutely NO works of the Spirit. The fact is that the Holy Spirit produces fruit. The evangelical view erroneously explains that the fruit of the Spirit is enabling one to do the works of the law. Paul however states that by the works of the law, NO ONE will be justified/righteous.

So let's look more closely at Romans 14:17. Paul is addressing the eating of meats from the shambles. These were meat markets that sold the leftover meats that portions had been sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples. There is a larger point however. Paul reinforces the way in which transformation takes place. The kingdom is established by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

First look at righteousness. The Greek word is dikaiosune and it means justified. It is related to the word dikaioo found in Romans 5:1 which states the following, "Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is declared righteousness that Romans 14:17 is referring too as we know from Paul's writing, that declared righteousness is the only righteousness one can have. Isaiah had explained to those under the old covenant that all of their righteousness was as filthy rags. Declared righteousness is the first key step in real transformation. The reason is that it brings peace with God. What is meant by peace with God? It means that one no longer has to fear God because they have been declared righteous. What is the natural out-flowing of peace with God? The answer is joy.

Further to the point, being declared righteous, having peace with God, and the joy that brings promotes love for God which is the catalyst for transformation. This is precisely how the Holy Spirit uses the gospel of grace to bring about real transformation in the believing saint. This is likewise why it is imperative that all saints, baby and seasoned, continuously hear the gospel of grace. They need it reinforced continually, and this is really the main reason that saints should assemble. If this does not happen on a regular basis, and the saints are subjected to the law; the opposite will happen.... they will be killed by the letter after having been brought to life by the Spirit through the gospel.

The key in all of this is the security that is fostered by being declared righteous/justified. It is why those who twist the scripture to teach that one can lose salvation are playing a a role as pawns of Satan the accuser of the brethren. This doctrinal position NEVER allows for the Holy Spirit to bring about real and lasting transformation. Personal reformation, based on a read and do mentality that is anchored in fear, can NEVER promote real true love for God. The fact is that no one can truly love one that they fear. There is always an amount of resentment that accompanies fear. This means that for those not resting in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost can NEVER really obey the first and greatest commandment; "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." The ONLY way that one could ever fulfill this command is by believing the gospel truth, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and that he made the one who knew no sin to be made sin for the rest of humanity so that they in turn might be MADE the righteousness of God in him.

Because, this being the widespread doctrine of evangelical Christianity whether they teach eternal security or not, the real transformation process is thwarted and still born. My prayer is that there will be an awakening to the real gospel of grace, which is the real gospel of Christ, which is the real gospel of God.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Breaking down Paul's prayer for the Ephesians: This should bring comfort to you

Eph 3:16-21CSB "I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,  (17)  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,  (18)  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,  (19)  and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (20)  Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—  (21)  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

There is a wealth of glorious information to be found within the sentences of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. Paul is praying for a new state of being for the believer. He is praying that the saints in Ephesus will really comprehend, and then apprehend the knowledge that has been revealed to him about the gospel. Gospel of course means good news/glad tidings, and good news is good news. Good news has no down side or it is not good news. Let me repeat this thought... good news has no down side or it is not good news.

It is interesting that Paul has taken the first two and one half chapters of Ephesians to establish beyond doubt the fact that the good news is all about the actions and faithfulness of God. In fact in the first chapter he states without equivocation that God had established the gospel of Christ before the foundation of the world. Let me break that down a little plainer for you. Before the foundation of the world is before creation. Yes, did you get that? Before God created anything, he had already set the gospel plan in motion. Further, it was with a specific plan in mind. His plan was to bring praise to his glorious grace. Are you listening to what your mind is reading? God's purpose in creation was to bring praise to himself because of the grace he showed in the redemptive plan. Are you shouting and dancing yet? You should be. Ephesians chapter one has so many redemptive decrees in it that it has to be one of the favorite passages of all people who are familiar with and read the bible.

Paul starts his prayer with this "I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,  (17)  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Christ dwells in our hearts, by hearts is meant our inner being... our spiritual essence. The way to be strengthened with power in our inner being is to continuously hear the gospel. Gospel you ask? Yes, the fact that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and not counting tresspasses/sin/sins. Do you understand what that means? God is not focused on our sin/sins. That is the good news!

He goes on, I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, what love you ask? The love that God showed in Christ and the gospel. Again, in order to be rooted and firmly established in God's love for us one must hear the gospel often, over and over. We cannot be firmly established in our love as our love is not real unless we believe the gospel. Oh, we can have real familial love, and even perhaps we can have real brotherly love, but the love that surpasses understanding is the love generated from having peace with God.

How do I know that it is God's love Paul is referring too? Because of this next sentence is why. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,  (19)  and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Paul is asking God to reveal to the Ephesians the width, height, and depth of His love. Well, actually God's love is incomprehensible. However, Paul is praying that by the Spirit of the living Christ that saints may begin to comprehend God's love. Again, the truth is that the only way that we can begin to comprehend God's love is by hearing the gospel over and over again. Hearing the law is not compatible with comprehending God's love. Hearing the law drives the hearer to turn to Christ. And turning to Christ, comes from hearing the gospel of grace. Given this most obvious fact why do preachers spend so much time on the law and it's requirements.

The only way to be filled with the fullness of God is by hearing the gospel message. It is the vehicle that God chose before the foundation of the world to bring praise to his grace. Jesus said that there was no greater love than being willing to give up his life for humanity. When one truly hears the pure gospel message it is a filling experience. The gospel makes one be full of peace, joy and love.

(20)  Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—  Read this sentence and think about what it is really saying. God is able to do/accomplish/perform/grant ABOVE all that we can ask or think. That's amazing, but then Paul says that it is according to the power that works in us. What is the power? The simple answer is the power that comes to us from hearing and believing the gospel. It is in the state of being that is generated by hearing the pure gospel that we access the power that will have God do above all that we can ask or think.

Did you get that? It is NOT in our PERFORMANCE and OBEDIENCE. It is in the state of being generated by hearing the gospel. It is from a place of total peace with the Father. That is what the gospel message creates.

So then, why are most preachers obsessed with the law, sin, and our short comings? The answer is simple. They have missed the way. They have missed the point. This shows why the state of current evangelical Christianity is so far off the mark. This evening I pray that Paul's prayer will be realized in us.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What does the song “Hotel California” and Proverbs, chapters 7-9 have in common? Part II

At the onset of this blog I want to provide a link where you can read Proverbs 7-9 and the lyrics of Hotel California. This is the LINK. You can click that after reading this post if you'd like.

Whenever, the Old Testament writers speak of a harlot, it is ALWAYS as a metaphor for Israel going after a strange religion or God. Infidelity and harlotry are metaphors for this tendency for mankind to try to find a way in which they can please God in a religious performance mode. In fact, The Prophet Hosea was told by the Lord to go out and marry a harlot as a prophetic object lesson. Hos 1:2  "When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him: Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the LORD." This is interesting in view of both Proverbs 7-9 and Hotel California.

In laying out the case for the title of this series, let's look at a couple of passages from the New Testament. John 5:39-40  You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me.  (40)  But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life. and... Luke 24:27  Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures; 44-45  He told them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  (45)  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. These passages clearly state that the purpose of the scripture was to point to Christ and the relationship to the Father he brings as the last, representative Adam.

Therefore, it is clear to see that any other reading of the scripture leads to religious harlotry. This was his beef with the scribes and Pharisees in John 5:39-40. With this groundwork laid we can look at Proverbs 7-9. That passage discusses in metaphorical language two women. One is wisdom, and the other is a harlot. In both cases, the women are calling to the naive. They are calling out to the young inexperienced that are easily influenced. Wisdom is representative of Christ, and the harlot is representative of religion. Wisdom believes that God has a good and merciful plan and purpose for humanity and religion provides a way to gain favor with God by human accomplishment, effort and merit.

Proverbs 7-9 is a prophetic admonition to Israel encouraging them to have faith in YHWH and not try to go the religious route to gain favor with God. Of course, the Apostle Paul explains graphically in Romans 10:1-4 that they did not heed this admonition. Instead of being content with the righteousness of God, that is the righteous decree of God (Gen 1:31,) They set out to establish their own righteousness via the Law. The problem with that was that the Law was not given to establish righteousness. It was a tutor to drive humanity to Christ Jesus, God's provision.

When one reads Proverbs 7-9 in its entirety, I suggest you do that by following the link above, or if you prefer, looking at it on your own, one finds that the harlot can also easily be a metaphor for the evangelical church, and its schizophrenic view of law and grace. The schizophrenic view of law and grace adopted widely in evangelical doctrine creates a religion of work based righteousness instead of faith based righteousness. As has been established many times within these blog posts, evangelical Christianity has gone off the rails when it comes to the pristine gospel of grace. While they verbally and vocally maintain that one is saved by grace, the reality is that with their schizophrenic view of law and grace, nullifies grace in the end in favor or works righteousness.

This is why I think that this passage from Proverbs 7-9 is so right on target for describing the evangelical church's approach to it's members and potential followers. "At the window of my house I looked through my lattice. I saw among the inexperienced, I noticed among the youths, a young man lacking sense. Crossing the street near her corner, he strolled down the road to her house at twilight, in the evening, in the dark of the night. A woman came to meet him dressed like a prostitute, having a hidden agenda. She is loud and defiant; her feet do not stay at home. Now in the street, now in the squares, she lurks at every corner. She grabs him and kisses him; she brazenly says to him, “I’ve made fellowship offerings; today I’ve fulfilled my vows. So I came out to meet you, to search for you, and I’ve found you. I’ve spread coverings on my bed—richly colored linen from Egypt. I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deeply of lovemaking until morning. Let’s feast on each other’s love! My husband isn’t home; he went on a long journey. He took a bag of silver with him and will come home at the time of the full moon.” She seduces him with her persistent pleading; she lures with her flattering talk. He follows her impulsively like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer bounding toward a trap until an arrow pierces its liver, like a bird darting into a snare—he doesn’t know it will cost him his life. Now, sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words from my mouth. Don’t let your heart turn aside to her ways; don’t stray onto her paths. For she has brought many down to death; her victims are countless. Her house is the road to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death." The husband that has gone on a journey is Christ, and she is left to her own devices. She is bringing the innocent into her chambers to have them join in her harlotry. It is important to remember that in the Old Testament harlotry is synonymous with strange religion.

This is getting a little long so I will stop for now with more to come later.

Romans 12:2; "Do not be conformed to this present age" Important to the understanding of Transformation

Rom 12:2 CSB  "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the go...